The Fragments of Empedocles

By Empedocles; William Ellery Leonard | Go to book overview

NOTES. ON NATURE.
Fr. 1. Pausanias is the friend to whom Empedocles addresses himself throughout the poem On Nature. Matthew Arnold has made him a character in Empedocles on Aetna.
Fr. 2. Narrow ways: these are the pores (πόροι) into which pass the emanations (ἀπόρεοαι) from things (cf. fr. 89); whence man's portion--such as it is--of perception and knowledge (cf. the simulacra of Lucr. IV). "Ways" (παλάμαι) are literally "devices"; but the notion of small passages is suggested by στεινωποί; cf. fr. 4.

Their little share of life: a note of sadness struck more than once by Empedocles, and one of the few elements in common with the personage in Arnold's poem. Cf. the comments on life and man in the Gnomic writers.

Like smoke: cf.

"Ergo dissolui quoque convenit omnem animal
naturam, ceu fumus, in altas aëris auras
."

Lucr., III, 455-6.

Than mortal ken may span: more literally, "than mortal skill may have power to move" (ο+’′ρωρεν).

Fr. 3. Addressed to Pausanias; so elsewhere.
Fr. 4. Their madness: this evidently refers to the over-bold speculations of Parmenides and other philosophers.

Meek Piety's: lit., "from [the realm of] Piety."

By every way of knowing: by every passage, or device (παλάμη+̨); cf. fr. 2. Empedocles, unlike Parmenides, affirms the relative trustworthiness of the senses.

Trust sight no more than hearing, etc.: here E. may imply a distinction between the understanding and sense perception;

-67-

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The Fragments of Empedocles
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Dedication. iii
  • Preface. v
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Empedocles: the Man, the Philosopher, the Poet. 1
  • Bibliography. 13
  • On Nature. 15
  • The Purifications. 53
  • Notes. on Nature. 67
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